Did you know that the medical treatment you pursue could negatively impact the outcome of your injury claim? This guide to slip and fall injury treatment will help you avoid mistakes.
Slip and fall injuries are among the most common injuries in the United States today. Further, slip and fall accidents are the top cause of workers’ compensation claims and half of all accidental deaths. ¹
Slip and fall accidents are prevalent, deadly and debilitating. You need to know what to do if you or a loved one experiences slip and fall trauma. Timely medical intervention can mean the difference between life and death, and can make or break your slip and fall injury claim.
This article looks at issues related to the treatment of slip and fall injuries. In particular, we will examine when to seek treatment for your injuries and how to make sure your medical records are complete.
Get Immediate Medical Care After a Slip and Fall
It’s sometimes difficult to know how badly you’re hurt just after a slip and fall accident. As with other health issues, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Going to an emergency room or calling 911 (particularly if the victim is elderly) is a good idea.
Never refuse medical care at the scene of a slip and fall. If paramedics want to transport you to the hospital, let them take you.
If you aren’t taken directly to an emergency room, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You can see your primary care provider, visit an urgent care center, or go to the emergency department at your local hospital. Try to be seen that same day as your fall.
Clearly explain to your treatment providers where and how you fell. It’s vitally important to connect your injuries and treatment to the slip and fall.
Not all slip and fall injuries are obvious. If someone else has fallen, don’t move the person. Err on the side of caution and call an ambulance. Try to keep the person warm and comfortable until help arrives.
Even if there aren’t any visible injuries after a slip and fall, it’s wise to seek medical treatment.
Head injuries in particular can be difficult to gauge. Slip and fall accidents can cause concussions or other traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These need attention right away. Symptoms of a concussion may not manifest until hours or even days after the injury.
Get evaluated as soon as possible to identify and treat any potential injuries.
Common slip and fall injuries and their diagnostic tests include:
- Head and spinal cord injuries: X-rays, CT scans, MRI, neurological examinations
- Back injuries: X-rays, MRI scans, nerve conduction studies
- Shoulder injuries: X-rays, range-of-motion tests, strength/resistance tests
- Knee injuries: X-rays, range-of-motion tests, MRI scans
- Hand/arm injuries: X-rays, MRI, CT scan, range-of motion tests
Severe injuries may need surgery or an extended hospital stay. For example, slip and falls are a leading cause of hip fractures, that can be permanently disabling or ultimately fatal to older injury victims.
Most injuries, though, will be treated on an outpatient basis with medical care, medications, rest, and sometimes physical therapy.
Preserving Your Claim While Getting Treated
Your first priority after a slip and fall should always be your health. But if your injury happened due to the neglect or intentional act of another person, there are other considerations.
You may have a personal injury claim. It’s vital to ensure the claim is preserved by linking your injury to the slip and fall event.
If your medical records don’t accurately reflect what caused your slip and fall, it can hurt your claim. Before the at-fault property owner’s insurance company will pay, you’ll have to prove that the property owner’s negligence caused your injuries.
With severe injury claims, your attorney might need to file a lawsuit on your behalf to motivate the insurance company to pay the full value of your slip and fall claim.
Medical records are generally admissible in slip and fall lawsuits. If the doctor or hospital didn’t get all the facts relating to your injury, the resulting record could be wrong. That inaccurate record could hurt your insurance claim or be used against you in court.
Understanding “Admissibility” of Medical Records
For any evidence to be considered by a jury in your personal injury lawsuit, it must be first ruled admissible by the judge. This means that the evidence must be both relevant to your case and free of other problems that could make it unreliable.
For example, “hearsay” evidence – meaning someone else reporting what they heard you say – is generally not admissible in court.
Most state laws exempt medical records from the hearsay rule. Your doctor’s notes and other medical records are typically admissible in personal injury cases. They are directly relevant to the injury and usually considered reliable. Thus, you should make sure that any statement going into your medical records is complete and accurate.
Keep in mind that, as your level of treatment increases, so will the importance of your medical records. You will need strong evidence to support the severity of your injuries and scope of treatment. Your medical records also help justify missed days from work because of your injuries.
If your injury requires frequent doctor visits or follow-up medical treatment, be sure you understand the treatment and how it relates to your injury. This will cut the risk of errors or inconsistencies in your medical records. It then ensures that those records help you with your personal injury claim.
Insurance companies are only obligated to pay “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses and have experts on tap to define what is customary for most slip and fall injuries. If your provider runs up your treatment costs with repeated tests and questionable therapies, you could be stuck with the bills if the insurance company won’t pay.
Alternative Treatments: Pros and Cons
Traditional health care by hospitals and trained medical professionals is viewed as the gold standard of care by insurance companies. Medical professionals should always be consulted for slip and fall injuries.
Traditional medical treatments have been scientifically tested and are almost universally accepted by insurance adjusters and courts. They also tend to deliver the most consistent results.
There are other avenues of treatment, however, that you might seek out for your injury. The cost of alternative injury treatments are often challenged by insurance adjusters and harder to justify if you take your injury case to court.
Naturopathy is a holistic medical system that utilizes a variety of treatment approaches including herbal medicines, homeopathic remedies, dietary changes, counseling, and exercise. Naturopathic medicine has provided relief for many people. Often, people who seek this form of care are unhappy with or unable to use typical pain medication.
It may not work for you. If it doesn’t and you suffer pain as a result, you could have issues with your claim. The other side may argue that your refusal to take traditional medicine is a refusal to mitigate your damages. This means that the other side is not responsible for the pain you caused by refusing traditional medication.
For back and neck injuries, treatment by a chiropractor is an alternative to surgery. Keep in mind, though, that chiropractors are not medical doctors. This fact will likely be pointed out when you make your claim. If you’re not treating your injury with a medical doctor, the other side may try to portray your slip and fall injury as less serious than it really is.
Also keep in mind that chiropractors offer more limited treatment options than medical doctors. The Mayo Clinic states that, while chiropractic adjustment can have modest effects for lower back pain and other conditions, it doesn’t work for everybody. As with holistic medicine, this can lead to mitigation of damages arguments from the other side.
There are also studies indicating some potential risks of chiropractic adjustment. It’s difficult to say whether and how this type of treatment should be used in slip and fall cases. You should note that an insurance company or a property owner you sue may try to use a history of chiropractic treatment against you.
A study on chiropractic care published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that chiropractic manipulation of the spine is “frequently associated with mild to moderate adverse effects.” In your injury claim, this may result in the other side claiming that part or all of your injury or pain is due to chiropractic adjustment rather than the slip and fall accident.
Get the Best Treatment and Preserve Your Claim
From the moments after your slip and fall accident until you make your full recovery, you should devote significant time and energy to ensuring you have the best possible treatment for your injury. Part of this also means thinking ahead to your claim process.
Make sure you get timely treatment and that your records are accurate. Make sure all your medical care providers are told where and how you were injured. It’s important to report all your injuries and symptoms, not just the one that hurts the most right after the fall.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, take action to protect your legal rights as well as your health. Speak with a qualified personal injury attorney or law firm in your state for a free consultation and case evaluation.
How Much is Your Injury Claim Worth?
Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney…